A special investigation by the State Auditor finds the former clerk for the northeast Iowa city of Delhi used city funds to pay off credit card charges to various stores and several calls to psychic hotlines.
State Auditor Mary Mosiman says she was called in after City Clerk Angie Billings resigned to take another job in 2015. “The new city clerk was organizing city records and she noticed electronic payments to a J.P. Morgan Chase credit card, and she was not aware that the city had a Chase credit card. And she also noticed various utility billing discrepancies. So, she contacted the mayor,” Mosiman says.
Mosiman’s office conducted an audit and found nearly $247,000 was improperly used by Billings. “The improper disbursements included almost $90,000 of improper credit card purchases by Miss Billings, a little over $63,000 of improper payroll to Miss Billings. A little over $11,000 of late fees to the IRS, $1,200 of cash withdrawals, 700-some dollars improper long-distance telephone charges,” according to Mosiman.
She says the personal credit card purchases paid for with city funds were to various stores and restaurants. “And then there were 33 charges to various psychic hotlines — that totaled a little over $1,900s. There were 27 charges for fitness equipment and weight loss supplements, there were several charges for a satellite TV provider,” Mosiman says.
Mosiman says there were some charges on the card that were reasonable for city business, but the majority were improper. The audit found some $6,700 in unpaid utilities, including $4,700 in unpaid utility billings for Billings’ personal residence utility account and her ex-husband’s business utility account.
“Some of these billings, manual adjustments were made were not being assessed for late payments,” Mosiman says. Mosiman says Billings approved nearly 10-thousand dollars in improper mileage payments to former Police Chief, David Weatherwax as well as some improper vacation payouts.
Mosiman says the police chief did not turn in receipts for mileage and simply told Billings how much mileage he was due. And she says the vacation payouts were not authorized by the city council. Billings had been city clerk in Delhi for nearly nine years. Mosiman says during the audit they discovered an error in the city’s billing that was unrelated Billings’ misuse of city funds. They found the city was charging an improper increased rate for sewer service.
“According to the city officials, a letter was sent to all utilities customers in August of 2009 stating that they planned to increase the minimum monthly charge for sewer usage to 26 dollars. But there was no updated ordinance of verifiable action to make this charge official,” Mosiman says. She says the increased sewer rate resulted in nearly $257,000 in improper billing to city residents. Mosiman says Billings was the city clerk at the time should have caught the billing error.
Mosiman has turned over the special investigation report to the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office, the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, the Delaware County Attorney’s Office, and the Iowa Attorney General’s Office.